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Anthrax in Kansas City – January 26, 2012

I sadly missed Anthrax’ last appearance in Kansas City at the annual Freaker’s Ball last October, so when the announcement came that they were playing KC with Testament and Death Angel I was pretty excited. Really, more excited than a 43 year old should be about a metal show.

Death Angel was first up. I don’t know much about them other than an album I picked up used, but they put on a great show, and the crowd was really into them. They made the most of their 30 minute set and definitely won me over as a fan.

Testament was the biggest surprise for me. Everything was spot on for them – the vocals were great and the guitar playing was incredible. I was familiar with Alex Skolnick’s playing but Eric Peterson’s playing was great too. Far and away the performance of the evening.

The big news with Anthrax was that Scott Ian wasn’t playing with them. He missed the date due to illness so the guitarists from Testament and Death Angel filled in for him on various songs. The revolving door of guitarists was pretty cool to see but there was definitely something missing from their performance. The band vibe wasn’t there. The last time I saw them was back in 2007 and they were much better then. Still, they put on a solid set and there wasn’t that much to complain about.

Anthrax’ set list:

Earth on Hell
Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t
Caught in a Mosh
I’m Alive
The Devil You Know
In the End
Got the Time

Metal Thrashing Mad
I Am The Law

Alice Cooper – From the Inside (1978)

I originally bought From the Inside from a cutout bin somewhere around 1980 – 1981; I was a stupid kid hoping to find something on par with “School’s Out”. Other than the gatefold cover nothing about it really piqued my interest so I ended up giving it to a buddy of mine who was big into Alice.

So here we are thirty years later, and thanks to the magic of Spotify I run across this again. I gave it another shot and you know what? It’s fucking fantastic. It may end up being my favorite Alice Cooper album.

Based on his stay in a sanitarium, the album is a combination of autobiographical songs and songs based on people he ran across. It’s pretty serious stuff with only a couple of songs (“Millie and Billie”, “Nurse Rozetta”) played for shock. Even “Veronica”, about an inmate who misses his dog tears me apart.

My personal favorite is “Serious”.

All of my life was a laugh and a joke
And a drink and a smoke
And then I passed out on the floor
Again and again and again and again and again

The song comes across as a party song but there’s such a tragedy beneath that.

The worst part of the album is the 1978 quasi-disco production but even that’s not overbearing.

Now if only I could track down a reasonably priced copy of Marvel Premiere that was based on this album…


It’s amazing right? I love physical media but this almost makes me want to give it up.

The usual suspects are missing…The Beatles, AC/DC, Frank Zappa. I couldn’t find Jerry Jeff Walker’s version of “Up Against the Wall” which sucked.  There are some major holes.

What mystifies me are the random songs that are missing off albums. On Uriah Heep’s Demons and Wizards one of the bonus songs is unavailable. “Domino” and “Detroit Rock City” are missing off of Kiss’ Alive 3. I don’t see a trend with these. Are the bands or labels leaving off random songs in the hope that you’ll buy the whole album?

To me the real strength of Spotify is being able to listen to music I’ve been curious about but never listened to.  The aforementioned Uriah Heep is one. I never had any of their albums (until last week’s trip to Goodwill where I picked up five LPs) but Spotify let me hear a fair amount of their music. I’m always interested in top 40 music but listening to Britney Spears reminds me why I don’t have more pop albums in my collection. I even found local bands like the Dead Girls and Hammerlord on there – both are good enough to warrant buying their albums.

It’s so much fun to explore and find stuff you’ve forgotten about or songs you’ve always wanted to check out that you know you’ll never hear on radio.  The fact that they have C.W. McCall’s Convoy should tell you all you need to know.

My Day at Rockfest – 2011

One of the more disturbing sites at Rockfest

One of the more disturbing sights at Rockfest

Two years ago it was insanely hot and I got something in my eye.

Last year it rained the whole time I was there and I got so much mud on me I had to go home and change before I could go anywhere else.

This year it was cold.  Not late-December/January cold, but cold enough that I didn’t wear shorts and I had to put on a hoodie. I still wasn’t warm enough. Still, it was the best time I had at Kansas City’s premier gathering of misfits and undesirables, although that isn’t saying a whole lot.

The response time on my phone’s camera stinks, but this delightful pixie had a large knife hidden in her boots.  She was using it to untangle her beads.


Despite this year’s strong lineup I was disappointed in a lot of the performances.  Hinder and Alter Bridge, two of the bands I was really looking forward to, didn’t do anything for me.  The two standouts I saw were Art of Dying and – suprisingly – Papa Roach.  I’ve never been a huge fan of theirs, but Papa Roach put in a solid set and really knew how to work the crowd.  I’ve previously written them off but I’m going to check out some of their stuff beyond what I’ve heard on the radio.

One of the interesting things I noticed this year is that more people were at the second stage.  In previous years the second stage had a small crowd because it featured lesser-known bands. However a lot of the acts put on better sets than those on the main stage.  This year was no exception but the crowd was larger and more into the music than previous years. Another thing is that the organizers did a better job with the food tents.  There were more of them and slightly better quality than previous years.  As usual there was no shortage of beer tents.  I realize that this happens because they sponsor it, but only having Miller and (I think) Coors available really bites.

The weather ended up driving me out before Stone Sour’s set.  I really wanted to see them but spending hours in the cold was beginning to chill me to the bones. Overall I had a pretty good time but I don’t know if the hassle of the drive, parking, and 30 minute hike to the Liberty Memorial is worth it. Unless they book someone spectacular next year or move it to a better venue this may be my last one.

These two young lasses were enjoying their weekend away from finishing school to perform for the crowd in exchange for beads.

2011 Rockfest Lineup

The 2011 Rockfest lineup was announced earlier this week and I only got one band right, Alter Bridge, and they’re not even headlining.  Headliner Disturbed meets the usual criteria for an act that’s not as big as it used to be.  I wouldn’t mind seeing their set but I have a feeling I might just skip out before they go on or perhaps in the middle of their set.  I’m looking forward to Stone Sour, that was a nice suprise.  Alter Bridge should be another good performance though based on the schedule they’re only playing for about an hour.  Black Label Society and Halestorm should be good as well.  I’m not crazy about Hinder’s albums but I think they have the potential to put on a good set.

The one I can’t figure out is Papa Roach.  Admittedly I don’t listen to 98.9 that much (or really any other terrestrial radio station other than NPR) so maybe they’re huge in Kansas City.  Other than them coming to Kansas City a lot I don’t hear much out of them so it’s strange that they get such a high spot in the lineup.

Overall it looks like the best lineup they’ve had in a while and I’m looking forward to it, if not for the music at least for the craziness.  And the five dollar lemonade, you can’t forget about that.